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Communicating Science in the Time of a Pandemic

Educational Objective
To understand how to communicate scientific principles, method, and discovery during a pandemic
1 Credit CME

During the global SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) pandemic, disseminating study findings (such as by preprints, news releases, news stories, or social media) and publishing the results of studies of testing and treatment in scientific journals increased quickly. As of July 6, a PubMed search for COVID-19 yielded almost 30 000 reports.

In the context of a rapid increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), clinicians, patients, policy makers, and the public at large are understandably eager for results of studies of prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment. Because of the urgency to implement the findings of research to stem the pandemic and its effects, clear and complete communication of study results is even more important than usual.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Ave, Fourth Floor, Boston, MA 02118 (Richard.Saitz@jamanetwork.org).

Published Online: July 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12535

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Saitz reported receiving nonfinancial support from Alkermes; grants from the NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) via Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, PCORI via Public Health Management Corporation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and McLean Hospital; personal fees from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Council on Behavioral Healthcare, Leed Management Consulting Inc, Kaiser Permanente, UpToDate/Wolters Kluwer, Massachusetts Medical Society, Yale University, Group Health Inc, Charles University, National Committee on Quality Assurance, University of Oregon, Brandeis University, Karolinska Institutet, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Partners, and Harvard Medical School; serving as president of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors; editor of a book published by Springer; editor in chief of Journal of Addiction Medicine; serving on the editorial board of Journal of Addictive Diseases and Addiction Science & Clinical Practice; serving as an expert witness in malpractice cases related to alcohol and other drug use disorders; and consulting for CheckUp & Choices and ABT Corporation (not remunerated). Mr Schwitzer reported no disclosures.

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Data on 53 patients treated with investigational antiviral remdesivir through the compassionate use program published in New England Journal of Medicine. Gilead Sciences news release. Posted April 10, 2020. Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2020/4/data-on-53-patients-treated-with-investigational-antiviral-remdesivir-through-the-compassionate-use-program-published-in-new-england-journal-of-medici
NIH clinical trial shows remdesivir accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19. April 29, 2020. Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/nih-clinical-trial-shows-remdesivir-accelerates-recovery-advanced-covid-19
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Gautret  P , Lagier  JC , Parola  P ,  et al.  Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial.   Int J Antimicrob Agents. Published online March 20, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949 PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Boulware  DR , Pullen  MF , Bangdiwala  AS ,  et al.  A randomized trial of hydroxychloroquine as postexposure prophylaxis for Covid-19.   N Engl J Med. Published online June 3, 2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2016638 PubMedGoogle Scholar
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AMA CME Accreditation Information

Credit Designation Statement: The American Medical Association designates this Journal-based CME activity activity for a maximum of 1.00  AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to:

  • 1.00 Medical Knowledge MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;;
  • 1.00 Self-Assessment points in the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery’s (ABOHNS) Continuing Certification program;
  • 1.00 MOC points in the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;
  • 1.00 Lifelong Learning points in the American Board of Pathology’s (ABPath) Continuing Certification program; and
  • 1.00 CME points in the American Board of Surgery’s (ABS) Continuing Certification program

It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting MOC credit.

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